CEO & Founder, CLJ Advisory LLC.

Benefits to a COI partnership – #2: Raise Your Credibility

I recently conducted a survey to find out how you are “weathering the storm” of COVID-19.  Questions were posed to insurance agents at firms like New York Life, Sunlife of Canada and Northwestern Mutual.  We also asked other advisors at firms like Merrill Lynch, IG Wealth, and LPL.  I found that many of your counterparts across the US and Canada are seeing the best growth from client referrals.  At the same time, the challenge has been your ability to meet with potential clients and acquire new ones (outside of client referrals).  Interesting data I thought would be of interest to you.


In this blog, I will expand on the benefits for you to create COI partnerships.  This reason has to do with credibility.  You will look much more credible if you have a team of CPAs and attorneys that you can rely on.  My guess is that you have been asked by a client at some point to recommend a good CPA or attorney.  In fact I was speaking with a financial professional not too long ago and she mentioned to me that in one week, two clients asked her for a good attorney.  One was a real estate attorney and the other one was for an estate attorney.  Since she didn’t have a strong COI network (hadn’t developed these relationships in the past) she was left in a position where she had to scramble to try to get back to the client.

Imagine if she had already had a group of COIs that she worked with previously.  She would be able to immediately give that client a good suggestion which only makes her look much more credible.  Not only to the client.  As she sends good leads to her COI, she builds her own credibility in the eyes of the COI as well.


The next point has to deal with edification from the COI.  As you establish more credibility with COIs, they can edify you to clients.  Let’s look at an example.  You have been working with your client’s estate attorney for a year or so.  During your next Zoom meeting with this client, you suggest they add a specific type of insurance.  They leave the meeting to think about it.  A week later they have a meeting with their estate attorney and mention your idea.  Since this attorney knows you, and has an idea of how you operate, they confirm your suggestion to the client.  The next day, you get an email from the client expressing their agreement to your idea resulting in the purchase of a new policy.

Now ask yourself a question.  If the estate attorney didn’t know you, what would the attorney have said to the client about your idea? Would your client have even mentioned the idea to the attorney?  This scenario is not uncommon and applies to CPAs as well.  These COIs can vouch for your product suggestions and strategies once as your partnership grows with them.  


This validation is a huge factor in credibility especially if you are a younger advisor.  As you know, one of the big challenges that younger advisors face is their credibility.  You or someone on your team may be overcoming that issue right now.  You may say to yourself, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to work with many high net worth clients that are older than me.” Or perhaps you say, “They can’t relate to me.”  These are very real thoughts that are playing in your background.  If you have professional trust with COIs, they can vouch for you and alleviate some of the perceived risk that some older clients have working with younger advisors.  This point is so big! 

During my wholesaling career, I noticed the difference in the speech of younger advisors and more experienced ones.  Younger advisors either directly or indirectly expressed a low confidence in older, wealthier client’s ability to trust them.  As a result, they focused on much younger clients (with less capital of course.)

My point with this illustration is that if you are younger, one of the best ways you can raise your credibility is to develop trust with several experienced COIs.  I won’t go into detail in this writing, but that is one area I would put focus on.  

This COI/advisor dynamic of credibility is even more prevalent with CPAs.  Most clients place a high level of trust in CPAs.  It seems like almost every word a CPA says is like gold.  If your clients and potential clients know that a CPA trusts you, that tells them that you are credible and they could trust you as well.  

To wrap up this writing, let’s go back to the survey mentioned earlier.  I found that a low percentage of financial advisors have been getting referrals from COIs.  This lack of referrals has always been the case, even prior to the coronavirus.  I encourage you to begin the process of building your credibility with COIs.  I realize that developing this credibility takes time, but imagine having credibility with 7 or 8 CPAs who can vouch for you.  They will send you some of their clients as well.  When you add COI referrals to the referrals that you get from your clients, you will have more potential clients to meet with and consistently bring on new ones.

You can do this.  Best success ahead!

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